Privacy Risk with Connected Toys

Privacy Risk with Connected Toys


This year, a few toys have gained attention for alleged privacy, security and advertising law violations. The complaints describe a number of privacy and security weaknesses in smart toys, such as the toy companies failing to obtain consent from parents for the processing of minors’ personal data, and weak security safeguards that allow the toys to be easily hacked.


These particular toys have become extremely popular, as they are able to interact with children through speech recognition software, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection by playing games, making jokes and much more. These toys have become so advanced, as they are able to guide children through learning and, over time, take the child to the next level of learning. However, while kids play with the toys, much of their interactions are recorded and shared with third parties. Parents should be aware what information a toy is transmitting — like video, audio and location — and whether that data is protected, where it is stored, who has access to it and how it is being used.


It is not clear to parents when they purchase a toy that data is being collected. Data science is at the core of these smart toys. No longer limited to scripted responses, toys are now employing sophisticated algorithms to enable interactivity. They’re connecting to the cloud, sharing data, and getting updates. They’re customizable. Smart toys are also a gateway for new technology initiatives. So what is being collected and how is it being used? Voice recordings are collected from the toys as children play, and are sent to a separate company that may use the data for other products.

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